Bowled over on
Super TV ads

Feb 8, 2005 12:48 PM

Everyone who knows football knew it would be a great game, with the best coaches, the best quarterbacks, the best teams.

And everyone who writes football will have written about the Super Bowl by the time you read this.

So I decided to write instead about those million dollar commercials. Well, more than a million when you add the air time and the cost of production, some of which should have been contributed to charity.

I’m not sure how many millions of people watched the game, but it seemed there was one commercial for each of them. I’m also not sure how many sponsors there were, because I stopped counting at 30.

They came so fast, and in such dizzying succession, that I couldn’t tell whether I was watching Ford or Cadillac, Bud Light or Amber Bock, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut or Taco Bell.

As best as I can recall, here are some impressions scrabbled from the rubble.

First and second prizes went, not surprisingly, to auto makers.

Up front, in one that looked like an outtake from Dr. Zhivago, a cop pulls up behind a convertible stopped at an improbable traffic light at an intersection in a vast wasteland of snow, stretching for miles in all directions with no sign of life. The cop sips some coffee before stepping out into the blizzard, and approaches the convertible, telling the driver, "You have a green light, you know." He taps the man’s cheek, which rings to the metallic sound of frozen metal. He then lifts the man’s dark glasses, to see the frozen stare of a man smiling broadly at pride and satisfaction at his car. The tag line was, "You just don’t introduce a convertible like this in the middle of winter." Congratulate Ford for a masterpiece.

Right behind it was Cadillac’s — I think it was Cadillac, but I was commercially groggy by the end of the game — great job with a daughter climbing out of her bedroom window and down a tree, and jumping in a sleek convertible with her waiting fiancée and speeding off. Her father intercepts them, and the daughter, desperate, tells her grim looking father that she loves the boy and they are going to get married. His response: "It’s okay. Just take your mother’s car." A real winner, and so was Cadillac’s bit with its speeding zephyr in the tunnel. Well done.

Toyota deserves credit for making a car commercial in which the wheels go forward, but its agency had to have the cars stand still to do it. How can science put men on the moon and go to Mars and Saturn but still have the wheels spin backwards when cars are speeding and careening forward?

The GMC bit with the truck mucking thru deep mud like a pig groveling in it left just that image, and the driver wiping off the logo did nothing to make me want to drive one of their trucks. Honda’s Ridgeline commercial did absolutely nothing. Budget tried labored humor, with the boxing scene in which the referee got flattened, the line reading, "Let Budget take the hit."

Verizon went back decades to use the tiny person bit, with miniaturized figures. Their agency may think this is cute and new, but it looked for all the world like something shot in the 1950s.

Master Card’s animation — I think it was Master Card’s, which is the biggest condemnation of any commercial, if you can’t remember the sponsor — was meaningless.

Janet Jackson’s breast was missing from the show, but Tabasco came close by adding spice with a good looker peeking down her bra with a smile, or was it a leer, of satisfaction.

Blockbuster thought it was clever to show a guy pulling out of his driveway to take the mail out of his mailbox, and then backing in. I think this advertised Blockbuster Online, but I’m not sure what the message was.

And then there was Cialis. Will someone explain exactly what that 36 hours means? They can’t really mean”¦oh well, drop it. Thank goodness it was a great game.

Budweiser’s stuff was, as always, fresh and bright and innovative.